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Friday, December 31, 2010

Flying Geese

This is my first attempt at the Flying Geese pattern. I am not making a quilt. It is for a bag. Quite a bit of cutting, precise cutting. OK I have that under control. I put together one block and it looked not quite right. Just then, Julie who teaches beginning quilting happens to walk in to see how things are going with the upcoming re-carpeting issues.

I showed her my block and she gives me the tip of sewing just to the right of the marked line.Then I go out to the classroom with her and we talk about the move and all the work and the mechanics of everything. She leaves and I get back to work. I get 24 blocks done. I don't know.

The above, the points are not 1/4 inch seam allowance. Do I take them ap0art? Re-cut them?
What did I do wrong?

These look a little better, they were the second set. I sewed to the right of the line but closer to the line. but still, I don't think the 1/4 inch seam allowance is very abundant.

I haven't stitched any of the pieces together as I still have a third colorway to do. Blue and pink. How long does it take someone to perfect this technique?

Maybe when I go in to the my workroom today I will have to get some books and do some reading because this little pattern gives no information on technique. And I can't put on the floor for display a bag that looks all wrong. These points have to turn out right.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Who ever thought I would make pic cushions for the wrist. I see students in the classroom all the time with these tomato cushions strapped to their wrists as they work their patterns and I always wonder what the attraction is. I guess it's just that I ..... I don't know. i would need to have what. At least six of them to accommodate each type of pin that I work with. Or would I just load the pins on that I would be working with at that time. Of course, there is something romantic about picking up my lovely cushions and moving them constantly from here to there as I am working. I love that. No, I am not a wrist person.

But I can see that some are. And Denise and Caroline are. Yes, Denise asked if I would make her one. So I got the pattern from Caroline and she said to follow it exactly. They know me. I have a tendency to do my own thing with patterns. So I did and it really looked a bit small to me. It is the cushion on the right with the multi-colored pins. I found a remnant of fabric with sailboats that cost me $3.00. It was a big piece. So I fussy-cut it and got the tiny sailboats to come through on top. Cute little thing. I even found blue twill tape and matching blue velcro if you can imagine.

Denise loved it but it WAS small for some of the pins that she uses when working the heavy fabrics on her boats. So I made a second one and enlarged the pattern an inch. From 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches. Much more substantial. As you can see on the left. I also placed in some iron on interfacing to give the fabric some support to take the abuse of the large pins. Of course, it only took me moments to make and I could make her a dozen of these in my sleep.

Anyone want one?


Not what you expected, eh!!

Caroline picked out this stitch for her fingerless gloves. It looked simple and, in the end, it will be simple. But putting it to needle was so frustrating I almost decided to just do a garter stitch.

You see, this is one of those stitches that you work both sides the same.

Yarn over, slip one purl wise, knit two together. That is all it is. Turn your work, do the exact same on the other side. But in the round.....

YouTube failed me. Some people just are not good teachers.

I even brought it to work and worked on my lunch, so obsessed was I. I should never have tried to figure it out on the actual piece. I am working with tiny yarn and I kept dropping stitches, having to take out rows, it turned out to be a mess and I have already completed the 15 rows of the cuff, which I do not want to start over. I do not!!!

So, here it is now, all figured out. I took out some big yarn and big needles. I began with the flat piece going back and forth all the same on each side. Then I slipped the piece onto three needles and figured out the reverse side. Really, it should be very simple. Perle two together, slip one perle wise, yarn over, but it is very awkward. I'm sure after a couple of inches it will all become more natural and the pattern will come through. What is awkward, is that the yarn overs come at the beginning and ends of the needles and you have to be ever mindful of them. Because they are double pointed needles there is a lot more activity than single needles, and, to create more stress, I am working with size 2 needles.

So very delicate work. But they will be exactly what she wants.

A picture to follow.

They say we may have snow. This is where you lower your voice down to the bottom of your throat and languidly say"


Monday, December 27, 2010


So, here it is, Christmas day. I have been working on this day forever, it seems. How I love Christmas. I almost thought I would be spending it on my own as everyone seemed to be on overload this year. But at the very last moment, we all rallied and Denise and Caroline came to celebrate. I was delighted.

I planned to serve an Italian brunch so I was hoping they would come late morning, hungry. There was not supposed to be gift giving, but there was. Here is Carline with the traditional yearly ornament. This year's design was taken from pictures I have seen in Scandinavian stitchery books and patterns. I will blog it at some point this coming week.

I am actually modeling the hat that Caroline made for me. I really love it. I have never been a hat person except for a few years following my drastic loss of weight in the eighties. Here in Portland Oregon, however, because of the nature of the weather and the fact that I do not drive, I find myself always wearing hats. I have loved Caroline's hats but never thought I would wear one because they are small and fitted and I love my hats big and loose. So, she designed me one of her wonderful hats big and loose. It is a quiet blue herringbone wool with a luscious turquoise silk lining and it is stitched with turquoise threads. Very nice. Very me. I am known for putting in surprising linings in my garments. This is so in keeping with my nature. It is perfect.

The table is full of goodies we have gotten. There are two bottles of wine I received from women at work. Some wonderful body products from France. A new car stereo for Denice. You can almost see the ice cream maker in the back. I am wearing my new apron.

I wish you could see it better, but there is the cake. Caroline made her bourbon fig cake. Oh my gawd. If I were inclined to keep bourbon in the house, I would make this cake. i should just offer to buy one from her from time to time. Without the nuts of course. It was so moist. Come to find out, it requires one cup of bourbon and she accidentally put in two cups. OOPS!

This is the kitchen before the cooking begins. We decided to open gifts before brunch, even though they both arrived hungry. So they went out to the car while I prepared the first course. I forgot to take a picture so you will have to imagine.

First course : My Italian Breakfast
In a pan, I heated to a simmer some artichoke basil tomato sauce and added some stewed diced tomatoes. I chopped some fresh basil leaves. When it was properly cooked, I added two eggs and then I sliced some fresh mozzarella and laid them on top. Then I immediately covered the pan and went out to fetch the girls. By the time they came in, took off their coats, poured wine, and settled down, the breakfast was ready. the eggs were just done. You don't want to over cook them. You want the yolks to be still runny. I also sliced baguettes and toasted three slices each.

It was an ample brunch, but it was the first course and they had not eaten yet so I was comfortable serving that size. Caroline called the dish "Eggs in Purgatory". I had not known that name. I had just seen a chef make that dish on an Italian cooking show a couple of weeks ago and copied the recipe down. Eggs in Purgatory. i wonder what other recipes come from purgatory?

This is the second course: Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup

You heat 4 cups chicken broth and keep it to the side.
In a large pot, you mix 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal with 2 Tb flour and begin mixing in the hot broth, always stirring after each addition until it is smooth. Add in also 3Tb butter and 2 cloves crushed garlic early on.

Before serving add in 6 oz baby spinach leaves. I took the time to remove the stems. I really don't like stems. You don't really have to. It is just a thing with me. I cooked it for a few minutes until the spinach was wilted and the smell of garlic was coming through. If the soup thickens, you can add more broth, or heat water and add a bit of water.

I didn't add any salt as I find broth is generally pretty salty on its own. I sprinkled a bit of Parmesan before serving.

Third course: Butternut Squash Gnocchi w/Sage butter and Fish w/ Chive butter

Bake the squash in the oven till soft. Scoop out the flesh, puree, then measure out 1 cup.
Cook 1 Russet potato till soft. Press through sieve and cool completely. 2 cups.
Mix squash and potato in a bowl with 1/2 C of grated Parmesan

Beat 1 egg w/ 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg & 1tsp salt & add to mixture.
Gradually add 1 & 3/4 C flour until smooth. Knead lightly. Divide dough into eight pieces. Roll into logs, cut into pieces and shape with fork. Refrigerate until ready to boil, at least 1 hour.

Cook in boiling water 15 to 17 minutes. Chill on baking sheet again until ready to cook and serve.

Heat 1/2 cup butter and add 2 Tb chopped sage. I always add more. I love fresh herbs. Toss in the gnocchi and cook until the gnocchi is done through it all looks beautiful.

Put in a warm oven until the fish is done.

In the same pan:

Heat another piece3 of butter. Add a handful of thinly sliced chives. cook until the butter is well heated. Add:

Six pieces of huge scallops
1 Lb wild fresh cod cut into the same size pieces as the scallops.

Toss into the butter and let the fish cook but watch carefully. You don't want to overcook. You want this fish to be very light and to melt in your mouth. So when you put your tongs to the fish, you want it to bounce. Very important.

Take the gnocchi and place on your dish, then the fish. make sure you scoop the herbs and butter left in the pan and drizzle it on everything. It makes a wonderful sauce.

I made the gnocchi the night before. I really struggled with this. I have seen Mario Battali make gnocchi many times. Mine was not at all coming out like his. This recipe was not a good one. I measured it out perfectly. It just did not work. I made enough pieces to serve, and then I threw the rest of the dough out, I am afraid. I am going to look for more recipes and am going to try to perfect it. By golly!!!

Course 4: Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Grapes

1 1/2 Lb Brussel sprouts cleaned and cut in half
1 Lb grapes, picked over
3 Tb good olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tb Lemon Thyme leaves chopped top bring out the flavor
S & P

Toss all together. Place on baking sheet with the sprouts turned cut side down.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until your knife goes into the sprouts easily.

This is really an easy one and very delicious. I didn't cook the entire amount as I was only serving small portions. I wish I had bought more. I would have loved to have had leftovers.

I wanted to make 5 courses, but it was getting late, and they just wanted to end with desert, sit for awhile and then go home to bed. OK. Se we ate cake. What a wonderful cake as I already talked about. i managed to get some leftover.

What they missed as the last course was a roasted root vegetable dish.

Sweet potatoes
Baked int he oven tossed in olive oil with S & P

Then there was a dressing:
Oil and vinegar
Fresh parsley
Dijon mustard

Served over arugula leaves.

Oh well, I get to eat these vegetables myself.

A nice day being together. They sat on the sofa while I cooked and served. No real cleanup as I kept it all cleaned as I went along and I served them on little dishes one course after another. We started around 11:30 or so and ended around 6:30? I love dinners like this. I find it mush more appealing than serving a dinner all at once. I love the little bites over a long period of time. you get to really taste every little thing, every morsel, every herb and spice. Nothing gets lost in the vast offering of a loaded table.

After they left, I was content. And I knew they were happy. Caroline apologized about being grumpy. You know, I never saw it. I just thought she was the sweetest little thing. And Denise had a complicated week or more. It was so nice to be able to just make them sit and let me take care of everything. Very satisfying. And of course, they thoroughly enjoyed that. And to me, that is how it always should be with guests and a hostess. You are in my house, let me take care of everything.

Deep breath. Great breath.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas' end

Here I sit in my wonderful big chair. I have just finished the Christmas laundry. I am wearing my nightgown which is newly cleaned and still warm from the dryer. And my old green Woolrich shirt which is nearly 30 years old and so threadbare that I worry it will not last much longer. They don't make shirts like this anymore. A friend gave this to me when I was living in Boston just after my gastric bypass. I was always cold in those days and he thought this might keep me warm. This was back in 1980. So, yes, 30 years old.

The Christmas dishes are done. It is dead silent in here. All the neighbors are gone for the weekend. There is so much peace and serenity here that I could just fall asleep right now as I type should I be so inclined.

It has been a magnificent day. Exactly as I had hoped it would be. Beautiful. My sister did not have to do anything. My niece kept offering and I kept reminding her that it was not the intention for the day that either of them do anything. I merrily spent my time in the kitchen doing my thing. How I love to cook. How I love to serve people. It was just meant to be this way. I am happiest in this role. Hand over the kitchen and it is like giving me heaven. Go pick up your knitting, go pick up the remote to the television, do whatever you want. Leave me to the kitchen and your taste buds and I am at peace. Content. Breathing deeply. And don't be telling me you can't eat another bite because I have another bite coming.

It does not get any more perfect than this. Wine, coffee, tea, water, food, sit.........

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Suit

I have to admit that last year's offering, although the fabric was absolutely fabulous, did absolutely nothing for me. I thought the dress and jacket pattern was wonderful. But when the fabric was put to pattern, it just didn't work for me. But I was told over and over that customers loved it. They couldn't keep the fabric in the house. The fabric was re-ordered over and over. When i took it down today I repaired the snaps because there was a list of customers who wanted to buy the garment. Well, that's nice.

But this suit. The fabric vendors usually show their offerings in the classroom as they need a lot of room to lay out their samples. I try to peek at the books and layouts when I can to see if anything jumps out at me. i was really taken by this one which appeared late summer. I asked the vendor if he would front us three yards for a display. Usually they jump at this because they know we are a big store and can really sell a lot of fabric from our displays. But this guy seemed a little hesitant. Then I matched it up with a coordinating fabric for lining and pant and he saw that we would be selling probably an unmentionable sum of fabric as a result and he acquiesced. Then it seemed like forever for the fabricto come in. I like to get that display done by the beginning of November. Customers begin thinking of their holiday outfits at that time. Then it came in and no one could find it. The lining and pant fabric never came in. Problem with manufacturing. I didn't give it a second thought. I just pulled other fabrics. After all, it was the jacket that was the focus from the beginning.

It is a Vogue Very Easy pattern and very esy it is. It took me just an afternoon. It is short, cropped, unstructured, and very flattering. I made a twelve. It looks really small but when I had women try it on, it really fit the size. I paired it with a high waisted pant that is also a very easy vogue pattern that is not even lined. I used a stretch sating that I reversed so that it is shown on the flat crepe side. The satin side was too shiny and limited. I thought a customer would find this side more sofisticated and might even wear it with other outfits.

There are no darts. Princess seams that have very little bust curves. The collar detail is simple and artistic. It has the only interfacing. The front of the jacket is not interfaced because the jacket is designed to not even have a button. I put a large snap there because it would be too simple for a customer to run with this piece. A large tight snap deters theft. Sad but true.

I only make one suit a year for the Home Decorating department using an upholstery fabric. I will do little things for them, but this is the major garment display for them. This is going to be a good one for them. They originally purchased 60 yards. Within a couple of weeks they will have to triple that order and continue to do that now throughout most of the year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Who is this?

Not a pretty sight.

I know. This is the face without the teeth. I am reminded of the hundreds of times in our youth when we would come in the presence of a grandparent or an uncle and they would push out a denture and we would run screaming, just scared to death. And the street bums without teeth. I very much associate this look with the ravages of age and poverty.

I will have to give my teeth a whole new take on life. I have to re-"view" them so that I don't get caught up in the negative stereotype of getting dentures.

I think I am just a little blue today. I am not eating enough and it is wearing me down. I have lost now 12 pounds. That is nice but at what cost. I forced myself to eat a whole bowl of oatmeal for dinner tonight. It was a real push. And I love oatmeal. But it was difficult.

Now for a lighter note. Let us talk CHEESECAKE!

I was commissioned to make a cheesecake for a woman in the office. Georgia bought the ingredients. Lemons, sour cream, cream cheese (the one she bought was a bit too salty and I had to do some finagling with that.) So I left the ingredients out for a few hours to get them room temperature. I separated eggs and began to make the crust. I am looking for my pan when it comes to me. I can't find it because Beth still has it! In New Hampshire I have 6 springform pans. I can make a cheesecake any time. Here I have one. If the pan is not returned before I have to make another, what to do. Now, how often do I even have to make a cheesecake? Let alone two in two weeks? So, this whole thing is odd. It is 11:30 at night and I am standing in my tiny kitchen and I am thinking - well, Beth is a night owl too..... So I called her and her Martha Stewart voice answers the phone. We chat, we laugh as usual because we love to make fun of everyone, then we talk about the cheesecake. God bless her, she is willing to put on her coat and bring the pan over. Luckily, she only lives ten minutes from me. She gives me the pan, I give her chocolate. She treasures chocolate as much as me. And then, when the cake is cut on Friday, I will snag a piece for her.

I just took the cake out of the oven. It looks good. No crack. Smooth. Just lovely. I love making cheesecake. I think I might create a chocolate drizzle for it tomorrow. We'll see. I will bring it in when I go to my knitting class. That way, Georgia can take it out of the fridge in the morning as a good cheesecake should be served at room temperature. If she takes it out at say 8:30 in the morning, then if they serve it by noon, it will be perfect. I don't know. People are funny about stuff like that.

OK. 1:30 in the morning. I haven't done anything on Christmas. Time to shut down in the kitchen. The plants are watered. Shut this little computer down and get to work. New pot of coffee made. Four hours. I can do a lot in four hours............

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was really ambitious tonight. I made an apple pie without the crust. I thought that, seeing I can't chew, maybe these apples would be soft enough to eat. Or at least to suck on. I am having a really difficult time with food. I just can't seem to eat enough. The weight loss is OK, but I am tired all the time, weak and often feel dizzy like I want to faint. Apples are good. A little brown sugar, a little butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, alspice. Sounds nice. Of course, I can't eat all of this and so my neighbor and her husband will indulge in some very willingly.

Oh, and my beloved mashed potatoes. I put some in a container and surround it with a creamed soup. I can't tell you how delicious this is. I know. You are thinking this is quite boring. But really, it's not. Now, I loathe broccoli. But I have this creamed broccoli soup that I bought by mistake. So I tried it with the potatoes. Oh my gawd. It is so good.

I am thinking, that even after the healing is over, I might still eat the mashed potatoes and soup. It IS very good. Very easy, very digestible and if the soup is a good quality, then it has got to be nutritious.

This has been on my counter for awhile . Caroline, my niece, gave this to me. I don't ever hope to be able to eat something like this ever again. I have to make a cheesecake this week for a woman in the office and I may chop this up and sprinkle it on top. ohhhhh welllllll

The French General's Angel

Isn't she just adorable? The doll is from a pattern from a designer, Rosalie Quinlan, "Little Bag of Dollies", from Australia. Of course, I made changes. I gave her the high position of being an angel. So, she is wearing white pantaloons made from $30 a yard men's Italian shirting. I gave her gold shoes. Everything is tied with silk ribbons. I made her wings trimmed and tied in gold. And then, for all of her wonderness, she is holding a very expensive star made of pure gold and thousands of dollar's worth of real diamonds in the shape of a star. This is one very special angel.

Moda Fabrics is coming in today and I have highlighted a printing of their fabrics for one of our special Christmas displays. "The French General's Lumiere." I will be photographing the display after they have seen it. I just didn't have the time as I didn't find out about their visit until the last minute (of course).

No one will see the back, but there are the gold threads, white pantaloons, and shoes. I always need to know that if someone was holding my work, it would not be one sided just because it is a display.

I absolutely love this little doll. As I write this I am thinking, wearing pretty silks, maybe she is this year's ornament?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Birthday

It was such an unusual birthday this year. Since I arrived here in Oregon in 2003, I haven't really known anyone close enough to celebrate my birthday with except my sister Denise. Oh, I know a lot of people from the store and through the store, but no one who would do the 'make a cake and buy a present' thing. But it was different this year.It seemed as though every time I turned around more little groups of women were celebrating. It was wonderful. I was so moved. Little gifts, candles, hugs, conversations about age and grace.

This past year has been really quite a turning year for me. And the proof of it has shown this past week surrounding my birthday. I don't know why people are so anxious about "getting old". I think really, it is a matter of perception. I really don't think people know how to look at themselves once they begin to turn fifty, sixty years old. And I think that those fitness gurus, the age-conscious gurus out there really don't hit the mark with their philosophies. If they did, then people wouldn't be so uptight about getting old. It is very very rare indeed that I meet anyone comfortable about being 61.

I just love being 61. It was a great birthday. And it will be a wonderful year. And if you want to know why, email me.

Are you ready for a good laugh

Before. Not a natural smile.

I know. I took my own before pictures and I didn't really capture the true essence of what it was like having all the missing teeth. I was so used to never opening my mouth that I just couldn't get it right. And smiling was no longer natural for me because it meant showing the above pictures. Even with the partials in I was just not comfortable. So I was pretty serious all the time unless I threw reservation to the wind and allowed my comedy to come out and celebrated laughter at the price of my embarrassment.

So, this is how it is now. Can you believe it? And I just love the scarf. When I went out for my birthday dinner with Denise and Caroline they were both wearing wonderful scarves. I thought, how lovely and why not me? The very next day at the store, out president, Trudy, had made a major buy in NY, and they were draping at least 50 styles of scarves on the conference table in the Vendor's Room. What. Providence!! So I bought two. Yeah - 40% discount. Then I bought two pieces of 3 yards each of bamboo knit which I just love to wear. They are heavy and so ample and I just look and feel fabulous in those. I chain-stitched the cut ends with special threads. Unfortunately the knit is limited in colors. I plan to pick up black next. I think that will be fine for this winter.

Now for the fun.

So my appointment for the surgery to remove my teeth was last Thursday. Denise, my patient lovely sister, picked me up and spent the entire travel time to the dentist allaying my anxiety. Then, in the end, walking into the room at Dr. Holland's office, I looked at the chair and all of the anxiety lifted. What could go wrong? Bad things don't happen to me.

It took a lot of drug to numb the mouth. Teeth breaking. Lots of pressure. Lots of noise. Everything was so fragile. Holland was trying to explain what was happening as he was going along but at times it was difficult because he was so intent in his work. This was not an easy case for him. On some teeth he had to cut them in sections in order to remove them.

I think it took longer than he had expected. First he pulled the top ones and put in the upper denture right off. Then he did the lower and set in that denture. He explained a few things and rushed out. I was not very clear on the instructions. I waited in the hallway till he was through with a patient to clarify a few things.

Rinse. Leave the dentures in for several days. Post op on Monday. Take a pain med as soon as I get home, before the numbing medication wears off. Take a pain med as soon as i get home before the numbing medication wears off.

Do you see where I am headed? Denise is kind enough to go to the pharmacist for the pain medication. Then we come home and I have to rinse because there is still a lot of blood. It is quite ugly and she leaves. I will be fine and she really doesn't need to hang out. I am just going to lay down. Next, to take the pain med. I get the pill on my tongue, fill the glass with warm water, but I can't tell if the glass is at my mouth. I am soaking wet by the time I find my mouth and by then, the glass is empty. So I refill the glass. I decide to put my left hand where my lips are and am successful at getting the glass to my lips but am not successful at getting water into my mouth as I can't seem to suck the water into my mouth. I finally get a tiny amount in and realize the pill is melting, because I can taste in at the back of my mouth. I tip my head back and keep trying to get the water in.

If he said to try to take the medication before the pain set in, what exactly did he mean? Did he know this would happen? Or did he mean that I should not forget? Surely someone must have a trick for this and should have published a perfect technique for this ordeal.There was water all over my clothes, all over the sink, the floor. And exactly what did happen to that damn pill? Did it really go down my throat or did it slide down between my cheek and teeth?

I gave up and took my bed pillows and the down comforter and layed down on the sofa. The pain came and went, was light and heavy. It was constant for several days. I have been wearing
the dentures constantly for five days. D- and I went to the market on Sunday. I bought two kinds of pastes that hold dentures in place. Two kinds of denture cleaners. A tube of ointment that is supposed to keep your mouth moist, invented for people who suffer from dry mouth. It only works for very short periods of time. I spent a fortune of product in search of the "right stuff".

The teeth are beautiful. I need to learn to open my mouth again. To smile, to speak fully. To be more expressive. It is still sore. I also need to learn to eat. I have not been able to eat much. I have managed to eat once a day and that was tomato soup, scrambled egg, or mashed potato. And very small amounts. I am now allowed to remove the dentures to clean them. I get hungry a little but am afraid to eat. I am afraid it will hurt and so I put it off. Dental therapy. Is there such a thing?

I managed to put in a full day at work on Monday. Beth cam back. She has been out since January 9th. She went to the doctor because she had a pain. That issue led to another and another and another. She used to have this lovely barroom voice and a disposition in the like. She came back to us with a voice that sounds like Martha Stewart and she is thin and fragile. I made a "Welcome Back" lemon cheesecake for her that lasted all of a half hour in the lunchroom. Beth loved it so much that I ended up wrapping the last three pieces so she could bring it home. After all, I made it for her. Everyone was in tears to have her back. She is just one of those special women - real.

So, what do you all think of the scarf look?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just My Imagination

For some reason I got up this morning and thought I heard on the radio that this was Sophia Loren's 70th birthday. I have been thinking about this all day. That makes her 9 years older than me. How could that possibly be? I just now remembered to look it up. She was born in 1934 making her 15 years older than me. Well, that is better. .... Still, when you think about it, 15 years. The older you get, the shorter a span of years seems to be. Am I right?

I am sitting here in my chair soaking my feet in a beautiful lavender soap water. It has been a very very busy few days. I made 11 noren curtains for the sushi restaurants. This project had to get done. I have had it a month.

Then last week, Julie presented me with her latest project. Only this one was not for the store. It was for her husband who is a drummer in Las Vegas. He landed a really prestigious part as Ringo Star in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. his outfit is very specific. All four of their outfits were very specific and individualized to their personalities. What we had seen in the internet was very "constume-y", cheap. He was looking for the real thing. She asked me for my help because of my experience. So, we began. She networked across the country to bring in just the perfect pink satin, the perfect trims, everything. What we couldn't get in the store, we depended on the vast collection of vendors that she had connections with. Everyone pulled through for her. What it says is that she is such a lovely person, that people are willing to bend over backwards to help her.

Hey, Monday and Tuesday I got up at 9:30 in the morning to get to the store to work on this project. That really says a lot about her. She created the shell. All the gold work. I created all the inner mechanics of the outfit. I made the pants, that is the only satin I touched other than installing the sleeves which she was more comfortable with my doing. OK.

The linings had to be detachable for cleaning. We chose bamboo fabric for this because it wicks moisture away from the body and it cools the body too. A good fabric and easy to work with. Snaps and hooks and buttons everywhere. This was all my installation. Underarm shields. I designed those specific. Lots of them, adding colored stitching to indicate front and back. Same with the boxer shorts that went into the pants.

Trims applied and removed because they didn't work. Julie did all of this. Waiting for the perfect one to come to the front.

At 4 o'clock, when it was done, it was absolutely perfect. Of course, no time to take pictures. Wrap it up and off to the airport. Pictures will come. It was fabulous.

While applying the last details, we were able to talk a bit about how wonderful it was to get to work together. We do that well. We supported each other, carried each other, understood what each other thought. We work very very well together. It was a total pleasure. As I was packing up to come home, I found a little card she left me, telling me how happy she was to know me. I know what she meant. I feel the same with her.

It was a great experience.

I go back into work today, Wednesday facing another deadline. I have just today to finish a shirt/coat for one of our vendors who will be attending "Quilt Market" this weekend. And because of my surgery, I have only today to finish it. Again, no pressure there.

This I can photo. The fabric is Robert Kaufman and has not been released yet. And it is going to be cute. You know, I could wear such a thing. I should just be daring. But I'm not. I am locked into what I wear and that is it.

Denise gave me a shirt she didn't want anymore becuase it was old and I opened the side seams a bit. But the shirt fits really well. I am just so used to wearing everything so baggy.

I am thinking of making changes this winter. I am getting a new mouth. So why not a new body!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Falling Stars

I don't know what it means, but in the past two weeks I have seen six falling stars. Or are they called shooting stars. No matter. There they have been. How I love this time of year when the cool air sets in and I take out my sweaters and coats. I wrap myself in my shawl at night. I have turned on my heat finally but only for a short while, just to take the chill out of the air.

The leaves are beginning to fall. There is not the change of colors like in New England. But I think that is only because I am not surrounded by trees like I was back there.

I have created a new blanket edge for fleece which I will present to the store tomorrow for a demonstration and display. I'll have to write directions for a free hand out for the customers. It has a braided edge. It is just a tiny sample and I'll post pictures of a full size blanket if they approve of it. I might make a couple for Christmas presents this year. It is quite stunning. Much nicer than a fringed edge. Of course there is nothing like a blanket stitched edge. It is just different.

Work on my teeth is finally set. I have been to my dentist for a set of three impressions. Next Thursday he will be pulling all of the teeth out. The dentures will be finished and ready to set in. It's pretty exciting. Finally I will have my full smile back, my full expressions back. Due to medications, and a lack of saliva, my beautiful teeth have completely deteriorated. Sad. Now,my self-consciousness will disappear. It will be great. Worth the pain.

I know I have a lot of pictures to record here. Although I have been absent for months, I have been producing quite a few spectacular pieces. Summer is always difficult for me. I am not a summer person and usually isolate in these months. I hope to be back now. I just have to bring my camera to work with me.

My current project is in helping to make a Ringo Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart's Club Band costume for a production in Las Vegas. Julie is making the piece for her husband who is a drummer. It is quite a serious affair. What we have seen on the internet is either quite cheap or very expensive, and so we are constructing it ourselves to make something authentic. I know at some point I will be getting pictures. I am not actually doing the work. I am advising and will probably be involved in some of the inner mechanics. We have just a week to make this. Of course. I will keep you all posted on its progress. So far, my experience has been valuable. That is nice.

I also created a new soup. I call it my

Lemon Leaf soup.

2 Tb olive oil
1 onion, chopped large
2 Med potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 C veg or chicken broth
1 Lb baby spinach leaves, cleaned
1 bunch of parsely chopped
1/2 cabbage, chopped
1 bunch kale, spines removed, cleaned and chopped
1 bok choy, cut up
1 small squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 lemons, the peel grated, and the juice extracted

Heat oil in large pot and cook onions until translucent. Begin to add all the other ingredients with the broth. Add water if needed, but not too much.

When all ingredients are cooked and squash is tender, partly blend with an emulsion blender or put part of the soup in your blender. You want part of the soup to be whole and part of it to be thick and smooth. I also added some small cubed ham to this but you don't have to.

Salt and pepper to taste.

It really is a refreshing soup with the lemon in it. And all the green leaves are so good for you.

I hope to be making more entries.

See you all soon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Searching for the Smile

They want pictures of my teeth so they make new ones to look like what I once had. This is a strange smile, eh!!

This shows a pretty natural mouth. You can see my fingers splayed out. It is because I am apprehensive about having my picture taken. I am not every "ONE" with the camera.

OK. I am being better with the camera.

I am now seeking to fix my teeth. I used to have a really wonderful smile. At least I think it was wonderful. I met a wonderful dentist, Dr. Borbotsina, back in 1976 who diligently took care of my teeth. I had wonderful insurance and I was self conscious about my mouth. Back then, I weighed over 350 pounds, but I did take care of myself. I was on the very cusp of a life change that had me lose 180 pounds and my self image had me reeling, not having a clue what I should be doing.

Dr Jim was concerned about how my diet which completely excluded food would affect my teeth and was committed to keeping up the care of my them. Consequently I have always had a great mouth.

So here I am in Oregon having been on these medications for several years that have caused a severe case of dry mouth and my teeth are falling out one by one, cracking, chipping. I eat rice and soup, oat meal, eggs, mostly soft foods. And still they come out. One tooth feel out while I was trying to take out my mouth piece. One tooth came out while eating ice cream. Ice cream!! It is awful. I have lost my smile. I just don't want to talk to anyone.

I went to OHSU today to be examined by their dental school to see if I would be a candidate for their program at a decent price that I might afford. Well, I am a candidate, but the price is high. $3000.

My regular dentist here quoted me $3500. So there is a conflict. I would be saving only $500 by going to a school. Of course I could look at it another way. When I look at it another way, I see that my dentist discounted all of my procedures. Originally, the cost was $4904 and he discounted it $1396. Could that be because I discussed full dentures with him last year thinking this would happen as the cavities were already very visible back then? But he thought it would not be necessary and just put in partials.

All I know is, This has to be done. It will take time, it will be a bit painful, take adjustment, be ugly for awhile, but in the end it will be better.

Now, go brush you teeth!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Textile Expo

This is my latest creation. I found out about the expo a week before it was to take place in Las Vegas. That gave me four days to get this piece done. Two of the days were weekend days meaning I had to work the floor - cash registers, cutting fabrics and customer service. Giving breaks to the cashiers, and trying to be present because weekends are always busy and there are never enough employees scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays.

So really, two days to complete this beauty. The fabric is a silk and cashmere blend with, yes, that is real leather around the waist. Julie picked out the pattern which was very basic. Then she wanted details. You just had to know technique in order to accomplish these.

The collar is only an inch and a half high. So the strip of leather is really only a half inch wide. It ended up being a tiny detail that looked very elegant because it was understated.

I had several choices of wools and I chose the stripe because it would be easier to work with on such short notice. I even was able to connect points as a detail you can see in the back seam.

It had a typical button closure front which I altered so that it would have an exposed zipper. I then clipped the wool away and created, by cutting wool on the bias, a chevron front-piece to hold the zipper.

The sleeves did not even have a vent so I had to cut away the seam and create the same look here as in the front but on a smaller scale and completely enclosing it with lining.

I managed to stitch on the belt loops so that you can't see the stitching. I will avoid top stitching whenever possible.

I chose a burnt orange matte satin for the lining. Because I added the zipper to the chevron without a seam, I had to enclose the zipper tape somehow; so I enclosed it by hand stitching a strip of the lining over it as you can see to the left. So, the slightest bit that the jacket is open, you can see the orange peeking out which is a detail that everyone just loved. I was not sure if it was going to be acceptable, but they loved it. So I was pretty proud of it.

This jacket just happens to fit Julie perfectly. The mannequin does not do it justice of course. So when I got in on Wednesday at 12:30, she asks me if I might have time to make a blouse to go under it. Men's shirting, which I adore. She has a pattern with a fitted front, and wants the cuffs pleated. I had to lengthen the sleeves so that they would peek out below the jacket and lengthen the bodice so that, when the suit comes off of display, she will be able to buy it. Julie is very tall and very thin. I have just a few hours to get this together.

There are no pictures because as soon as it was done, she grabbed it and left to get home and get ready for the trip. No time to spare. So the final pictures will come when the suit is returned. I think next week. When it goes on display in the store, we will of course attach the pattern to it, but there will be a note saying that the details were created by the seamstress. MOI! Of course, my name will not be there, but everyone will know it is me. They will be talking about that one a lot. I will probably have to make a skirt or a pant to go with it. Or maybe they will display it just as it is. Who knows. There are scraps of the fabric left which I have in my scrap box in my sewing room. I might make some little Christmas things for everyone. The feel of this fabric is incredible. As much stress as there was working this project, the true joy of it was working with this cloth - so soft and intense. How many op0portunities does an ordinary person have to work with such a fabric?

I sent all of my pin cushions to a quilt show last weekend. I put them in a pretty basket and lugged them to work. One of my favorite quilters exhibits and sells quilts at shows. She has a reputation as a master quilter. This basket must have weighed 40 pounds. I have to get some sort of contraption that I can use to wheel such things because carrying them to the store is a real arm breaker. I will be seeing Nancy tomorrow and will find out how she did. I hear from another quilter who quilts with Nancy that in May there is a huge quilt show that I should send my cushions to because they will sell very well there. And Paula should know. She is another master quilter who really has an eye for things. She is one of the marketing displayers for the store. So I have some good time to apply to this. And I do love my cushions.

I was reading a needlework magazine printed in 1923 and found out that back then, they were not called pin cushions, they were called "pin pillows". Hmmmmm

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Summer

Yes, summer comes and I just crumble. It has been like this for decades. Who said that just because I am a human being I HAVE to be a summer person?? I want to meet that person. Whenever I tell someone that summer is my worst season they are amazed like there is something wrong with me. Yet it is perfectly acceptable to say that one does not like winter.

In summer people are hot and cranky. They smell. They sweat. And they complain about everything. people are just miserable in summer. And yet - they love summer. I don't get it.

When the heat hits I am undone. I lose my momentum. I get side-tracked. I don't want to move. Give me a chair and a cup of coffee and that is that.

I found out today while having a harmless argument with my sister that putting two spaces after a period is no longer done. My world is falling apart. Soon, there will no longer be two spaces between paragraphs. There will no longer be paragraphs. Words will all come one right after the other and no one will know what anyone is talking about.

Everyone is starting to complain that I have not been to my blog in a long time - over a month. It is summer. I ran into problems with my Etsy site and the frustration caused me to shut down completely. Remember - it is summer and I undo easily. I haven't even used my phone. I haven't even used my imagination. I am lucky I still have a job! Well, I am pretty good at my job. Thank god I maintain some consistency at work.

So I am trying to be back. This is my attempt to be back. I hear summer is officially over on Labor Day which is today. Yay.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A New Bill

I got a bill in the mail yesterday from a collection agency. A collection agency!!!! It was regarding and orthodontist. Now true, I did have a lot of work done last year on my teeth and need more this year. But I have been faithfully taking care of all of that. So I tried to get that out of my brain because, at ten o'clock at night, there was nothing to be done with this.

When I got up today I thought I might call my dentist first to make sure it was legitimate. What if it was a bogus bill? Why would a credit agency be sending me a bill for collection with all of these interest fees that I have never seen before? What if it was a scam? So I called my doctor's office and the accountant said that I have a zero balance and nothing should be coming through from anyone else. Oh my! So I figure I have a situation on my hands.

Then I called the credit agency and explained the situation. The very sweet woman pulled the account and asked "Alexandria?" "What?" I replied. "Alexandria. Are you Alexandria?" Then I looked down and realized that the bill was addressed to a different person. It was not my name on the bill. This person gave them my address to mail the bill to.

Oh my god~~~~

The moral to this story?

Always check to see if it is your name on the envelope.

I take too much for granted.

I am relieved and the day continues, unencumbered.

Are you all laughing now?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My New Passion

This horse was a real challenge because, although you can't see it, there are a lot of dark fabrics set on dark fabrics. This is the type of quilted piece that has perhaps 80 pieces all carefully cut and using adhesive, are then strategically placed layer upon layer to achieve the final picture. Some pieces are independent and so if you are off a little it matters not. But most pieces require precise placement. Look at the horse's eye. Is that not the most beautiful look you have ever seen? The summer before I came to Oregon, I spent a great deal of time at a stable braiding the manes of a few horses who competed in dressage. I recognize the look in this eye. Peaceful, meditative. Understanding. I love this horse. If I was into owning such things, I would want to own this piece.

This was the first piece I made like this. You can't see it, but ever single piece, every spot on this quilt is edge-stitched. No matter how small. Even the leaves that come off the sides and edge stitched, then curled over a dowel, and tacked on. The horse isn't. We wanted to show customers that they didn't necessarily have to have sewing skills to make one of these. It is really ok to just cut and iron on the pieces. There are women who blow up the images and hand applique the designs and turn them into full - sized quilts. These two pieces are small, maybe 14 X 22 - ish. Just wall hangings. I am hoping that when I go in on Monday, and I ask, they will let me do another. I really enjoy these.

I haven't made very many pieces of clothing for adults these past few months. But I am about to be hit. I was told to collect patterns for white blouses. Well, it is beginning. I love white blouses. One never has enough white blouses. If it was up to me, I would set up a display with six or eight of them and a basic collection of little skirts and wonderful pants to mix and match. It would make a fabulous display. Something we have never done before. maybe I can talk Julie into it. It is a classic look. And refreshing from all the knit crap that is out threr right now that makes everyone look so fat because they don't know how to wear it.